Scriptures

Guardian Angels

Introduction

What do you think of at Christmas time when you get cards and wrapping paper, signs and symbols and ornaments of these cute little things with halos, wings and nice little faces that are as sweet as they could possibly be?

I don’t think we should be thinking that in our minds when we read the word ‘angel’ in the Bible.

Can you tell me a single story in the Bible where an angel appeared and someone said,

‘Isn’t that nice?’ ‘Isn’t he lovely?’

In the Bible when an angel showed up, almost always, what was the first thing they had to say?

‘Don’t be afraid’,

because whatever they look like, they put you down on the ground in terror.

Remember, one of God’s angels killed 186,000 of God’s enemies.

‘That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning— there were all the dead bodies!’ 2 Kings 19:35

‘Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies’ Isaiah 37:36

These are mighty creatures and in Scripture they had three basic functions, to worship, to witness and warfare. So, don’t believe all these nice little pictures you see all over the place with these nice little creatures on them. Don’t be deceived by the world’s interpretations of angels, especially at Christmas time.

Just as a side note, with all these pictures which go around on the internet, some of them show angels as taking the appearance of females, I don’t know of a single Bible verse which gives this idea!

The third verse of the hymn,

‘Count your blessings’, says ‘Count your many blessings, angels will attend, help and comfort give you to your journey’s end’.

‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’ Hebrews 1:14

Is there any Scriptural evidence to validate this regarding angels in this context?

I want to look at this in order for us to understand what we’re talking about. So, runs the question, a question which, in essence, asks if the Scriptures teach that there are ‘Guardian Angels’?

This is a good question because the very existence of angels is a subject that is rarely discussed these days. We might be forgiven for suspecting that preachers and hearers alike are often reluctant to commit themselves where angels are concerned.

Note, the words for ‘angel’, ‘malak’ in the Old Testament, and ‘angelos’ in the New Testament, occur 213 and 188 times respectively and both mean

‘messenger’.

Whether a reference is to a human being, or to a heavenly, spirit being, must be determined by the context. In the majority of instances, however, the words refer to a definite and distinct order of spirit beings.

‘Modern’ theologians wouldn’t even spend time discussing this topic! One textbook used by theological student’s states: ‘(It might seem that there is little profit in attempting any discussion of the angels, those higher beings that have been traditionally recognised in Christian faith and theology. As they have usually been represented, they belong to the mythology and poetry of religion, rather than to theology…’ (John MacQuarrie, ‘Principles of Christian Theology’. p.215

The Sadducees are certainly with us still!

‘(The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, and that there are neither angels nor spirits, but the Pharisees believe all these things.)’ Acts 23:8

Apparently, in a world as sophisticated as ours, angels simply don’t fit! They appear to be an embarrassment to many people, including, I’m sorry saying, even to some Christians. There are people who are willing to concede that the Scriptures mention such heavenly beings, but who then suggest that, since the Lord Jesus became our Mediator, there is no longer a need for the ministry of angels.

Thus, with a stroke, angels are taken out of circulation or have been made redundant! They belong to an age long since passed and have been put into moth-balls!

Is it not strange that ‘modern man’ is prepared to consider the possibility of ‘alien visitors’ from outer space and ‘U.F.O’s; is fascinated by ‘The X Files’ and ‘Star Trek’, takes seriously so-called ‘astrological forecasts’ the ‘occult’ and ‘star-signs’, and is happy to discuss

‘out of the body experiences’,

the list is almost endless, but mention angels and one instantly becomes some sort of religious freak?

What do the Scriptures reveal about angels and their relationship to human beings?

Well, there are some quite clear statements, which should help us in our search for the answer to the question. Angels have an interest in what happens on Earth. This is a truth which runs right through the Scriptures, from Genesis to the Revelation.

For example:

1. In the Old Testament,

Angels brought Abraham the promise of a son. Genesis 18:10 ‘Then one of them said,

“I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’

They warned Lot of the impending destruction of Sodom.

‘The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground.’ Genesis 19:1

They met Jacob, on his way home from his uncle Laban’s territory.

‘Jacob also went on his way, and the angels of God met him.’ Genesis 32:1

Moses believed in Guardian Angels. He told the people that God

‘sent an angel and brought us forth out of Egypt’. Numbers 20:16

Daniel believed in this ministry of Angels, because he said,

‘My God has sent His Angel and has shut the lions’ mouths’. Daniel 6:22

Even Nebuchadnezzar believed in Angels!

‘Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants’. Daniel 3:28

2. Coming over to the New Testament, angels were intimately involved with the Lord Himself, all through His life and ministry.

Angels foretold his birth to Mary and Joseph

‘But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’ Matthew 1:20

Angels announced it to the shepherds in the fields

‘An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.’ Luke 2:9

An Angel instructed Mary and Joseph to go to Egypt

‘When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. ‘Get up,’ he said, ‘take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.’ Matthew 2:13

‘After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt.’ Matthew 2:19

Angels ministered to him after his fast and temptation in the wilderness.

‘Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.’ Matthew 4:11

An angel strengthened him in Gethsemane

‘An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.’ Luke 22:43

Angels stood ready, 12 legions of them! To respond to His call, if He required them!

‘Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’ Matthew 26:53

An angel rolled the stone, from the mouth of the tomb

‘There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it.’ Matthew 28:2

Angels met Mary Magdalene when she came to the tomb

‘Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot.’ John 20:11-12

Angels were present at his ascension

‘They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.’ Acts 1:10

Angels will accompany Him when he returns

‘This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.’ 2 Thessalonians 1:7

An examination of the Scriptures will easily extend this list. In Matthew 18:10, the Lord Himself warns against despising, treating badly, or harming. ‘little ones’ who believe in Him.

‘See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven’.

The plain meaning of His statement is that there are heavenly beings to whom is entrusted the special duty of the care and guardianship of believers.

I might add that those words, ‘for I say to you’, are tremendously significant, because that is the formula used by the Lord, when He introduced new truth or illuminated truth not previously understood. Compare Luke 15:7

‘I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.’

‘In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.’ Luke 15:10

And note, also, that He uses the same formula no less than nine times in Matthew 5.

‘For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.’ Matthew 5:18

‘For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.’ Matthew 5:20

‘But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.’ Matthew 5:22

‘Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.’ Matthew 5:26

‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’ Matthew 5:28

‘But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.’ Matthew 5:32

‘But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne’. Matthew 5:34

‘But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.’ Matthew 5:39

‘But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.’ Matthew 5:44

Angels are interested in the conversion of sinners. Luke 15:7+10 reveals that

‘there is joy among the angels of God’,

when the lost is found and when the sinner repents. In the next chapter, Luke 16:22, Jesus tells us that, when he died, Lazarus

‘was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom’,

another example of angelic involvement with the faithful.

They have an interest in the faithful preaching of the Gospel. In 1 Timothy 5:21, the young evangelist, Timothy, is urged to exercise his ministry with care,

‘I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels’.

An angel directed Philip the evangelist, to meet the ‘Ethiopian’.

Acts 8:26 ‘Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.’

And Cornelius was told by an angel to

‘send to Joppa for Peter.’

‘One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter.’ Acts 10:3-5

Angels will be the Lord’s agents at the time of the Judgement.

‘The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evil-doers.’ Matthew 13:41

In the church, angels are concerned with the woman’s subjection to the Man.

‘For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.’ 1 Corinthians 11:8-10

Notice the phrase

‘because of the angels’.

It means that her acceptance of the divine order constitutes an example to the angels.

‘Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?’ Hebrews 1:14

This reveals their ministry to be two-fold

They are ‘ministering spirits’ ‘liturgical’ or worshipping spirits, sent forth to serve for the sake of ‘those who are to obtain salvation.’ The word ‘leitourgika’, rendered ‘ministering’ or ‘worshipping’, speaks of their service to God Himself. The word ‘diakonia’ which is rendered ‘to serve’, describes the nature of their service to believers. They are to serve those who inherit salvation, and that means you and me!

1. Satan certainly believes in them.

When trying to tempt Jesus to dramatically cast himself from the pinnacle of the temple, as recorded in Matthew 4:5-6

‘Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. ‘If you are the Son of God,’ he said, ‘throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’

Satan quoted Psalm 91:11

‘For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.’

2. Peter believed in them.

Having been released from prison, Peter said, Acts 12:11

‘Then Peter came to himself and said, ‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.’

3. Paul believed in them!

During the storm, on his voyage to Rome, he said

‘Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me.’ Acts 27:23

4. In fact, ALL the apostles must have believed in them.

After having been arrested by the Sanhedrin, they say, Acts 5;19

‘But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.’

Conclusion

Do I believe in Guardian Angels? Yes! Emphatically!

And if you ask if I can recognise a ‘Guardian Angel’, I answer, No! But that doesn’t constitute a problem for me. After all, on several of the occasions to which I have already referred, e.g. Abraham in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament, they didn’t recognise them either!

In any case, the recognition of God’s children is the job of the angel, since he is to minister for those who inherit salvation. It is not necessary for me to be able to recognize him, but he is commissioned to recognise me!

How do the angels go about their work?

That is for them to know. We are to have faith in our heavenly Father’s promised care for His people.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."

Romans 12:2

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